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Discovering Film

  • Season 1
  • 13 episodes
  • Arts
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Episode 11: Discovering: Humphrey Bogart

Summary

A look back at the life and career of Humphrey Bogart, who starred in Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon and won an Oscar for his role in The African Queen.

Review

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Ranked by the American Film Institute as the greatest male star in the history of US cinema, Humphrey Bogart has one of the most indelible cult images in Hollywood history.

But as this affectionate profile illustrates, the charismatic Bogey we think of today – that cynical romantic and noble underdog – didn't emerge overnight. Initially typecast as supporting villains in the dying days of the original gangster film cycle, he had to wait until a leading role in High Sierra reinvented him as a tough, vulnerable, haunted anti-hero.

Shortly afterwards, when his great friend John Huston cast him as Sam Spade in a classic adaptation of The Maltese Falcon, he was elevated to superstar status and never looked back. Classic after classic followed, including the immortal Casbalanca and The African Queen, for which he won his only Academy Award.

The programme also touches upon his legendary romance with co-star Lauren Bacall, his liberal politics – he bravely campaigned against the McCarthy anti-communist witch-hunts – and his Herculean capacity for fags and booze. Alas, the latter finally did for him at the tragically early age of 57. 

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